The basic idea was born during a visit to a public swimming pool. Although most of the public swimming pools measure the elapsed time of their customer’s time limit via RFID tags, they don’t offer the customer an easy system to use system for viewing their time spent.
After an initial brainstorming and an ongoing discussion the project team determined the core and optional functions. The goal was to print as many components as possible including the display.
Guided by the two project leaders, Natalie Ramp and Marcus Satzger, the team of ten students was split into three different product groups of three, three and four. Each product was designed to serve different purposes.
Product 1: EC-Watch
Product 1 is a low cost version of the Smart Watch. It features a simple, four-segment EC-Display (Electrochromic Display) which informs the user about the remaining time on his account. The Smart Watch can be laid out to support different time periods adjusted to the needs of the designated application. The Smart Watch can be used for several use case scenarios, such as a Swimming Pool timer, Tea-timer, food packaging or others.
Since all components of this Smart Watch can be printed, the product can be produced at a very low price. Due to the open design, the Smart Watch can be printed on a PET sheet as stand-alone product for a “one time only” use. The design can also be integrated into a reusable, durable, 3D printed watch housing rechargeable batteries. Wireless charging is available.
Since all components of this Smart Watch can be printed, the product can be produced at a very low price.
Product 2: LED-Watch
Product 2 uses three different LED in terms of color, such as green, yellow and red (like a traffic light) to notify the user of the remaining time. The total time set in a program on an embedded microcontroller is running down and once an activation button is pressed, certain LEDs will light up according to the time left. When the countdown approaches expiration the last red LED will flash constantly, a sign for the user that the time is running out. Since the time is controlled by a microcontroller Product 2 is much more precise than Product 1. A 3V CR2032 button cell supplies the microcontroller and the LED array with power. A trigger switch, which will only be accessible concealed, is required to activate the countdown timer. Product 2 employs more conventional components like the previously mentioned microcontroller, the LEDs, the trigger switch and the button. The conductive lines connecting the battery powered system and the microcontroller with the LEDs can be printed using silver ink and screen printing.
Product 3: LED/EC-Watch
Product 3 is the more advanced version of Product 1. Like Product 2 it uses a programmable microcontroller, which will serve as a highly exact timer to put the countdown function of the Smart Watch into effect. Also it houses both a four segment EC-Display, which indicates the remaining time and an LED, which will flash in the end to indicate the expiration of time and serve as an alarm signal. After the programmed time period the LED will light constantly until it is reset. Unlike Product 1 the EC-Display will only display the remaining segments if a button is pressed. As soon as the button is released the EC-Display will discharge itself very quickly. This is done with a so-called H bridge, a circuit system that enables the voltage to change direction, hence discharging the EC-Display. The complete system can be switched on and off by a trigger switch, which is only accessible with a certain tool, to prevent the program to be reset unintentionally.
Within the project Printed Electronics the graduate students of the master’s program Print and Media Technology as well as Marketing-Management worked together and created a marketing feasibility analysis for their technically developed products. As a first step of the project the students of Print and Media Technology presented their developed products, whereupon the Marketing Group focused on a microeconomic feasibility analysis. The possible functionalities, scopes of application and market potential as well as marketing concepts were identified and developed in three steps
Scopes of application
In order to find possible application fields for the newly developed product, the responsible Marketing project team applied special creativity techniques including brainstorming. In this way the following potential application fields could be identified: Cosmetics, Medicine, Foods, Sports Equipment, Board Games and Sustainability (water consumption in shower). By applying a scoring model, taking into consideration criteria like market attractiveness (volume & growth), intensity of competition, USP for customer and company, legal restrictions, etc., it was possible to identify the three application fields with the highest market potential: Cosmetics, Foods and Medicine. These sectors have all a very high market volume and growth as well as a lot of potential customers. Besides that, the added value for customer and company is considered to be very high.
Based on the mentioned branches of industry different product functionalities as well as design suggestions were developed which were considered as economically reasonable in the respective scope of application. Thus, the following product functionalities were able to be worked out for the three prioritized scopes of application:
- Cosmetics: label/sticker on product packaging, illustration of the ideal application time of diverse products like hair conditioner, hair color, facial mask, nail polish
- Food: label/sticker on product packaging, e.g. best-before date, cooking time, steeping time
- Medication: label/sticker on packaging, especially to display the time passed after opening the balms, lotions etc.
The following functionalities were identified for further possible scopes of application:
- Wellness: watch with segment-time-display, personal activity reservations / activity displaying
- Sports equipment: time display of the rent duration through symbols, e.g. as bracelet or integrated into textiles
- Entertainment: integrated time display, e.g. tag for board games (as substitute for hour glass or the like)
- Sustainability: displaying water consumption, e.g. waterproof label on bathroom fittings
As the final products are distributed via companies but at the end are used by end-consumers, the marketing concept pursuit both a BtB (business-to-business) as well as a BtC (business-to-consumer) approach. Thereby a pull-effect should be generated on the side of the companies and a push-effect on the side of the end-consumer.
First of all the focus of the marketing concept lies in classical media but e-marketing could also play an essential role. Therefore marketing could take place via exhibitions, trade shows and events but also via social media and blogs.
Our team consists of an international group of students all attending Munich University of Applied Sciences. This project was completed during the winter semester of 2013 / 2014. The group was headed by project leader, Natalie Ramp, who led the group throughout the semester.